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‘End petrol car imports by 2040’

Commission seeks feedback over its draft advice to help New Zealand hit emissions goals.
Posted on 09 April, 2024
‘End petrol car imports by 2040’

All light vehicles entering the fleet will need to be electric by 2040 if New Zealand is to hit proposals in draft advice being prepared for the government on the country’s fourth emissions budget.

That’s according to the Climate Change Commission, which is seeking feedback on setting the emissions cap for 2036-40 after the government has already agreed to three emissions budgets up to that period.

Its latest draft advice was released on April 8 and recommends setting the fourth budget at just under 27 million tonnes of greenhouse gas a year, down from 73m tonnes in 2021.

The commission says stopping new and used petrol car imports by 2040 would be among the necessary measures to achieve that goal.

“Road transport can be almost completely decarbonised by 2050 by switching to low emissions vehicles alongside increasing uptake of active transport, such as walking and cycling, public transport use, and reducing vehicle travel,” the draft document says.

“Decarbonising transport will require a rapid increase in electric vehicle (EV) sales so that nearly all vehicles entering the country are electric by 2035.”

It adds electrification is central to transport decarbonisation and its latest emissions budget plan assumes that by 2040 “all light vehicles, both new and used, and almost all trucks entering the fleet would be zero emissions battery EVs”. 

The commission notes this would result in almost 80 per cent of light vehicle travel being done in an EV by 2040. 

The draft advice also highlights that between 2020 and 2023, the registration share of EVs rose from five per cent to 14 per cent, which could be attributed to the clean car discount that was in place for the same period. 

“While the cost of purchasing an EV is currently higher than petrol or diesel vehicles, recent trends in battery prices have been showing these costs are coming down,” the commission says. 

“By 2040, we expect the cost of purchasing a new battery EV to be 15 per cent lower than a new petrol vehicle.”

It suggests transitioning to EVs and reducing vehicle use could save the country $23 billion by 2040 by reducing public health costs and improving productivity. The shift would also improve quality of life.

Have your say

New Zealanders are now being encouraged by the commission to have their say about how to tackle climate change over the coming decades. 
The commission is running an eight-week public consultation to help it develop its advice to the government. 

Dr Rod Carr, chairman, says before it finalises the advice, it wants to test its thinking to make sure the eventual recommendations are realistic and robust. 

“We’re seeking feedback and input from a wide range of people, businesses, organisations and sectors,” he explains. 

“This is because the decisions that the government makes will affect all of us.” 

The results of the consultation will inform the commission’s final emissions budgets and targets advice, which is due by the end of this year.

Besides the draft advice, consultation is also open on two discussion documents that look at the country’s 2050 climate target and whether emissions from international shipping and aviation should also be included in that goal.

For more details and to make a submission, visit Submissions close on May 31.